Gaming Stories: Marvel vs. Capcom 2

I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. 

I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride. I wanna take you for a ride.

I was never much of a fighting game fan growing up, and that might be due to membership in the Sega Genesis camp. For a long time, my only exposure to two-dimensional fighting games came from watching other play games like Street Fighter II, World Heroes, Saturday Night Slam Masters, and Fatal Fury at arcades or comic book stores that happened to have an arcade machine or two in the back of the store or in the Versus mode in Streets of Rage 2. When my parents would agree to rent a game for me from Blockbuster, I stayed away from fighting games because I never thought that they would have the longevity of a platformer or an action game. This is how I ended up playing Chakan: The Forever Man and Ex-Mutants instead of Street Fighter II: Champion Edition or Mortal Kombat.

Eventually, I found friends who were also members in the Sega Genesis camp, and I was able to borrow Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II: Champion Edition to introduce myself to fighting games. Some lateral thinking was required to play a five-button fighting game like Mortal Kombat or a six-button fighting game like Street Fighter II: Champion Edition on a Genesis controller that had only three buttons or four, if we counted the Start button. Of course, using the Start button for block, for example, meant that there was no way to pause the game. Until the six-button Genesis controller was created, playing either Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter II: Champion Edition on the Genesis meant that it was not an arcade-perfect experience, even if the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat kept the blood instead of turning it into sweat. 
I only had the classic three-button controller; I always wanted the six-button one, but I never got it.
Since I skipped the PlayStation/Nintendo 64/Saturn era of consoles, opting for PC games instead, I only kept up with fighting games by watching other people play in the arcade. When arcades started disappearing, I lost my connection to fighting games until I went to college, where an acquaintance down the hall in my dorm had a Dreamcast and a copy of Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes. Oddly enough, I didn’t become friends with him. Instead, I became friends with people on the other end of the hall who had a Nintendo 64 and copies of WCW/NWO Revenge and GoldenEye 007 and a PlayStation and copies of Silent Hill, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes.
By sophomore year, I had saved enough from two part-time jobs to get a PlayStation 2 and some games during winter break. At the time, I justified it to myself by saying that I needed a DVD player, so I may as well get one that could also play games. If I were to be honest with myself, I think that I just wanted to play games that were not available on the PC, such as Dance Dance Revolution, that I could also use for party play. One of the games I bought with that PlayStation 2 was Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Back then, the thrill of playing came from churning through as many games as possible, so I didn’t stick with Marvel vs. Capcom 2 long enough to advance beyond very low level play against the AI set to the easiest difficulty. And so I traded it in at a Gamestop, probably for credits so I could get Dynasty Warriors 4 or something. For a long time after, I would cringe every time I saw the prices for Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on the PlayStation 2 on eBay.
Traded in for pennies on the dollar at Gamestop so I could get Dynasty Warriors 4. That was a mistake.
That feeling of embarrassment and regret probably fueled my intense desire to one day own a Marvel vs. Capcom 2 arcade machine. Even on the PlayStation 2’s controller didn’t feel quite right for playing a fighting game like Marvel vs. Capcom 2; it’s entirely it didn’t feel comfortable to me because I lacked the manual dexterity or the patience to stick with it until my hands adjusted. After all, if people are willing to contort their hands into The Claw so they can play Monster Hunter on the PlayStation Portable, I probably could have gotten used to playing Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on the PlayStation 2’s controller. 
I know nothing about owning an arcade machine, but I was willing to learn, and I had disposable income to spend and my parents’ basement to use. Still, I didn’t get one. Life gets in the way, the disposable income was no longer disposable, and my parents’ basement was no longer a storage option for an arcade machine. 
But just as col.CC Filipino Champ’s Phoenix was revived multiple times by Dark Phoenix in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 during Evo 2012’s UMVC3 tournament, so my idea of owning a Marvel vs. Capcom 2 machine (“MVC2 machine”) was revived when I saw a neglected MVC2 machine at a store I pass every day on the way to and from work. I never saw anyone use the machine, and it was eventually turned off and covered by a cloth so the store could use the controller panel to store questionable DVDs of even more questionable films. Every day I would imagine asking the store’s manager if the MVC2 machine was on sale. Every time I would hear stories on podcasts about California Extreme, I would check my bank account to see if I could afford it. I even recruited my wife to ask the store’s manager about the machine’s availability while I watched with our toddler son from across the street. Her investigation uncovered that the store had only rented the machine from a supplier and that the store manager was waiting for the supplier to pick up the machine. This meant that I had only so much time before the machine would be gone from the store. It should be noted that I never quite confirmed that the owner was willing to sell.
There was a point where I had my wife’s approval, sufficient funds, and space in our current apartment, but I didn’t pull the trigger. But I decided to resume graduate studies, and it turned out that the money I had mentally allocated to buying the MVC2 machine was put to much better use paying for classes and buying a financial calculator. But I knew that the dream would have to lie fallow (for now) when I passed by that store one evening and saw that there was only empty space where the MVC2 machine once stood. 
Since I know nothing about owning an arcade machine and didn’t have a burning desire to play Marvel vs. Capcom 2, I’m still not sure why I wanted that particular MVC2 machine so badly. Maybe it was the proximity; the store was a 5 minute walk away from where we currently live. Maybe I thought that I would have to pay at most $250 for that MVC2 machine; the market price range seems to be $400-$1,100. Or maybe it’s the mystique of owning an arcade machine, and the MVC2 machine was the closest, possibly available option. 
Maybe one day, if I’m still interested and you happen to be available.
At some point in the future, I’d like to own an arcade machine. It doesn’t have to Marvel vs. Capcom 2; it could be Silent Scope, House of the Dead 2, or NBA Jam: Tournament Edition. But there’s no rush, even though the supply of CRT televisions dries up since they’re no longer produced, which means that replacing a broken screen in an arcade machine becomes increasingly difficult. We’ll see how my resolve holds up around next July, when the next round of stories from California Extreme come around. In the meantime, I wanna take you for a ride I wanna take you for a ride  I wanna take you for a ride I wanna take you for a ride I wanna take you for a ride…